New Hampshire : Safety by City
- Hampton Beach
- North Conway
- West Lebanon
Exeter, New Hampshire, is a town nearly 400 years old that still holds onto its history but keeps the charm alive and well through every nook of this New England paradise.
In a region where each town can seem as picture-perfect as the next, Exeter has some claims to fame.
It was here that the foundation Republican Party was created, with documentation of secret meetings proving the disputed fact.
President Lincoln always walked the same streets you will when he came to visit his son at the prestigious Phillip Exeter Academy.
Years later, Mark Zuckerberg would also attend this elite boarding school before going to Harvard and creating Facebook.
Buildings and historic sites from the Revolutionary War as still showcased in Exeter, one of the oldest towns in the country.
Ironically, the arguably best-known piece of history was the Incident at Exeter in 1965.
Of all the claims New Mexico and Nevada claim for UFO sightings, the Exeter sighting is one of the most (allegedly) legitimate and baffling sightings of all time.
Like any good American city, the notoriety has now been parlayed into an annual UFO festival.
Exeter is also just 30 minutes from the “Stonehenge of America.”
From Exeter, you can be lakeside at the Great Bay or beachside on the Atlantic Ocean in 10 minutes.
Warnings & Dangers in Exeter
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here, with crime rates well below the national average and plenty of things to do.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
The Transportation section of the town's website lists some local services available to ride around Exeter or tour the "Seacoast." COAST is the name of the bus system that provides on-demand rides. Rental cars are also available. The popular Downeaster train goes through Exeter, which runs from Boston to Freeport, Maine (home to L.L. Bean!). All options are low risk.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
There hasn't been a pickpocket or purse snatching in at least five years ago of 2021, leaving a low risk here. However, there is a place where a cold, ghostly hand might grab yours - but more on that to come.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
This is a medium risk, but every season brings a "season." Hurricane season runs from June through November. Nor'easter season runs from October through May. Tornados and wildfires are rare but don't rule them out. Mostly, you'll need to be able to handle tough winter weather.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
Mugging is a low risk. With no more than five robberies a year since 2011, even the few that happen are generally in homes or businesses, not against individuals.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
There's a low risk of international terrorism, but gun violence is growing in America. Mass shootings are all too common, though they are rarely targeted at tourists. The best thing you can do is stay vigilant and report anything suspicious.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
Most scams are targeted at residents and the elderly. The police department offers tips on its website, and you can check social media sites for the latest scams. If you suspect a scam, contact the Exeter Police Department at (603) 772-1212. Elderly scams should be reported to the New Hampshire Bureau of Elderly and Adult Services at (800) 949-0470.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
This is another low risk, but be prepared with winter survival skills in case of a car breakdown on the roads or wilderness training for the outdoor areas. It's a safe town to walk around at night but always stay in well-lit areas.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The 2022 Water Quality Report shows no violations and full compliance. For more urgent issues, like a water main break, use the city's social media sites.
Safest Places to Visit in Exeter
The town’s website has a list of local “Places of Interest.”
At Visitnh.gov, you’ll be able to download a free visitor’s guide covering all regions of the state.
Exeter is considered part of the Seacoast.
Hampton, Portsmouth, and Dover are also part of this region.
Downtown Exeter is along the Squamscott River, where shops, restaurants, parks, and the bandstand line the streets.
Swasey Parkway runs along Water Street just outside of downtown.
Many festivals can be found here during the year, and benches line the safe sidewalk away from the main road.
The Exeter Historical Society is on Front Street.
You can’t miss the yellow brick building.
This building has been standing since 1893 and houses centuries of New Hampshire history.
Download a digital walking tour of the town from the society’s website.
The American Independence Museum was founded on the right everyone has for independence and freedom.
Tours are available of town history locations (guided or self-guided) with activities focused on children and senior citizens to keep voices engaged in freedom at all ages.
The Gilman Garrison House takes you through a 1700s home and fortified building that protected the owners against attacks by Indigenous People.
The house has been renovated over the centuries and is now restored to its former glory with original artifacts of the Gilman family.
You can do a walking tour of Phillips Exeter Academy or take the 30-mile Exeter Trail through several other small towns of New Hampshire.
While on campus, look for 46 Front Street, the Nathaniel Gilman House (not the same as the museum).
This is where legend has it that the cold hands of ghostly creatures have grabbed human hands, refusing to let go.
Cross over the river to Founders Park, where you get great views of downtown Exeter.
You can also learn the history of this river, which was dammed many times to help sustain mills.
The final dam was removed in 2016. Now the river flows on its own for the first time in nearly 400 years.
The Powder House is near here, another historical treasure that housed gunpowder for the Revolutionary War and War of 1812.
Powder from this location was used in the Battle of Bunker Hill.
Places to Avoid in Exeter
There aren’t any bad neighborhoods or dangerous parts of town here.
As one Redditor said, “But really, there’s not a part of town that is unsafe.
There are just extra nice parts!”
The only caution I would offer includes staying off of the private property and not trying to sneak into places that are for residents and guests only.
You’ll need to do a little digging when looking into certain activities here.
For example, the Exeter Country Club name might suggest it’s members-only.
This is actually a member-owned club where the public is welcome to book tee times.
Not all New England country clubs will have that same benefit.
If you’re renting a car, see if you can get one without a Massachusetts license plate.
There’s a friendly (or not-so-friendly) rivalry between the two states.
The only reason it matters to you is that drivers in New Hampshire will automatically assume you’re a terrible driver with a Massachusetts license plate.
Also, fall foliage is one of the top draws here.
They’re lovingly (or not-so-lovingly) referred to as Leaf Peepers.
Plan for traffic.
This is one state without a “Shoulder Season.”
Safety Tips for Traveling to Exeter
- The town of Exeter does have its own police force. As Exeter is a somewhat common name, be sure you’re looking at the one in New Hampshire with the 603 area code. You can also find them on Twitter @ExeterNHPD. New Hampshire State Police is @NH_StatePolice.
- Sign up for RAVE alerts through the Exeter Police Department website. You’ll get emergency messages regarding weather, criminal activity, road closures, and other civil safety concerns.
- Exeter TV on YouTube is a great way to get a feel for the community. While you can skip the public meetings if you’d like, there are plenty of safety and tourism resources there.
- For those planning to visit the beach, please know that Hampton Beach is the “tourist trap” of the Seacoast. You’ll have a great time there, but expect crowds at the height of summer. If you want to get away from the crowds, ask a local what the lesser-known beaches are and how to get there. With 18 miles of coastline, there’s sure to be a perfect spot for your needs.
- New England 511 is the travel website for the state and region. You can get real-time traffic alerts, see construction zones, and check live camera road conditions.
- New Hampshire has some of the most liberal fireworks laws in the country. However, local ordinances can override the state law. Exeter is one of a few communities where fireworks are banned. You can read the full list of allowed fireworks cities and towns on the State Fire Marshall website.
- The New Hampshire Department of Fish & Game oversees the issuance of fishing licenses. Please make sure you get a license ahead of time and carry it with you at all times you plan to fish.
- The department also offers Voluntary Hike Safe Card, with a cost of less than $50. The purchase of this card protects anyone doing outdoor activities from being responsible for the cost of their own rescue. Yes, New Hampshire will charge to rescue you if you get lost or hurt. This would not over reckless or deliberate actions that would be known to prompt rescue.
- New Hampshire doesn’t have a sales tax. That means when you’re shopping, a product that is $9.99 will actually cost $9.99. Delaware is the same, but other New England states charge sales tax. Massachusetts is 6.25% and Maine is 5.5%.
- If at any point someone tells you to “Live Free or Die,” it’s not a death threat. That’s the official New Hampshire motto, slogan, and heartbeat.
So... How Safe Is Exeter Really?
While Exeter doesn’t make the top 10 safest cities in the state, it also doesn’t make the 10 most dangerous.
To even call a New Hampshire city “dangerous” is somewhat laughable since it’s the second-safest state in the country, beaten only by Maine to the north.
Vermont, right next door, is the fourth safety state.
Violent crime rates are less than half the national average, and even theft rates are one-third of the national numbers.
Even with low crime rates, headlines of armed robbers storming a convenience store or a crime spree leading to stolen cars can and will happen here.
Common sense and diligent personal safety steps will go a long way here.
You’ll also find the community is protective of its sterling reputation.
It’s well known as the nation’s first presidential primary every four years.
Exeter also gets celebrated for feeling more like a city while still keeping its small-town charm.
With so many things nearby, it’s a safe basecamp, but you’ll be able to fill your time if you’re not leaving the city, either.
How Does Exeter Compare?
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- Visas - International guests need a passport that doesn't expire within six months and either a visa or visa waiver. Your country of origin will determine if you are eligible for a visa waiver. Start that process on the U.S. State Department website by using the Visa Wizard module.
- Currency - Only the U.S. Dollar can be used here. Most of the currency exchange locations are in Massachusetts. Don't wait until you get to Exeter. Your home bank will offer the lowest fees and best rates.
- Weather - A robust four seasons meet you here, so plan accordingly. With so many hiking trails and parks, bringing well-worn hiking boots are important. You'll need the full scope of winter accessories. Summers are warm but can be chilly at night. Bring layers to stay comfortable as the temperatures fluctuate.
- Airports - Portsmouth International Airport is just 25 minutes north, and you can get to Boston Logan International Airport in an hour.
- Travel Insurance - Comprehensive travel insurance is the best value, giving you full coverage for the potential of weather delays, health needs, car accidents, and theft.
Exeter Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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